270 - BYZANTINE CHURCHES CHAP.
him with the advice to let dolls alone in the future. In consequence of this experience, whenever the jester was afterwards asked whether he had seen his £ mamma's * dolls recently, he put one hand to his mouth and the other far down his back and whispered, c Don't speak to me about dolls.'l Such were the pleasantries that relieved the stern warfare against eikons.
On the occasion of the breach between Theodora and her son Michael III., on account of the murder of her friend and counsellor Theoctistos at Michael's order, she and her four daughters, Thekla, Anastasia, Anna, and Pulcheria, were confined in the Gastria, and there, with the exception of Anna, they were eventually buried.2 At the Gastria were shown also the tombs of Theoctista, her son Petronas, Irene the daughter of Bardas, and a small chest containing the lower jaw of Bardas3 himself. It is this connection with the family of Theophiius, in life and in death, that lends chief interest to the Gastria.
(For Plan see p. 267.)
Although the building is now almost a complete ruin, it still preserves some architectural interest. On the exterior it is an octagonal structure, with a large arch on each side rising to the cornice, and thus presents a strong likeness to the Byzantine building known as Sheik Suleiman Mesjedi, near the Pantokrator (p. 25). The northern, southern, and western arches • are pierced by windows. The entrance is in the western arch. The interior presents the form of an equal-armed cross, the arms being deep recesses covered with semicircular vaults. The dome over the central area has fallen in. The apse, semicircular
1 Theoph, Cent. pp. 91-92.
2 Ibid. pp. 174, 658, 823 j Codinus, p. 208. The Anonymus (Banduri, Hi. p. 52) and Codinus (De aed. p. 97) say that Theodora and her daughters were confined in the convent of Euphrosyne at the Libadia, ra AijS^&a* Their mistake is due to the fact that the convent at Gastria and the convent at Libadia were both connected with ladies named Euphrosyne, Cf. Codinus, p. 207.
3 Constant. Porphyr. p. 647.